Jon Bon Jovi Talks Giving Back, 40 Years of Bon Jovi & His Pollstar Live! tt

A few days after being honored by the Recording Academy for his musical contributions and philanthropic work as the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year, Jon Bon Jovi will take the stage as a featured keynote speaker at Pollstar Live!

The keynote Q&A – “How To See A Million Faces And Rock Them All” – features the Bon Jovi frontman interviewed by his longtime booking agent, Rob Light, who is the head of music, a partner and managing director at CAA. The discussion will include JBJ sharing insight about his lengthy career and the artist’s perspective on touring at the highest level. JBJ will also be honored at Pollstar Live! with the Milestone Award in recognition of Bon Jovi’s 40th anniversary. Since forming in Sayreville, New Jersey, four decades ago, Bon Jovi has released 15 full-length albums and performed in over 50 countries for more than 40 million fans, grossing more than $1.3 billion.

JBJ caught up with Pollstar ahead of the conference to discuss philanthropy, Bon Jovi’s big anniversary and his keynote Q&A.

Pollstar: Congrats on being named the MusiCares Person of the Year. What do you attribute to your heart for giving back? Is it religion or your family’s values?

Jon Bon Jovi: I think that some of it is instilled by your parents and your upbringing, but the rest of the journey has been organic. When I started the [Jon Bon Jovi Soul] Foundation it wasn’t my first foray into philanthropy, but it was the first time that I had an entity. And now 20 years later, we’re able to be focused in our approach to both issues [of hunger and homelessness]. If there were a bumper sticker to explain why I chose homelessness and hunger issues my belief is that the bumper sticker would read: “I don’t need a scientist to find the Cure. It’s within us.”

You know, every little bit helps – whether it’s one of our four restaurants or during COVID when we both financed and were one of the handful of employers of the food bank, which fed seven pantries, which then in turn fed thousands of people on Long Island. We knew that we could have our own little kind of ripple effect by being in the trenches and doing what it is that we do.

You’re going to be featured at Pollstar Live! As a keynote Q&A along with your agent, CAA’s Rob Light. Any hint about what you want to talk about on stage?
I told [Ray Waddell, president of Oak View Group’s Media & Conferences Division] and Tim [Leiweke, CEO and co-founder of Oak View Group, parent company to Pollstar] I’m open to anything. There’s nothing that’s off [the table] or anything I have to hide. And we can talk about everything that’s happened. I think it will be great to sit down with an old friend who knows the history of the band in an open conversation with no limits.

You’re also going to be honored with the Milestone Award. What are your biggest takeaways after 40 Years of Bon Jovi?

First of all, we’re still happy to be here (laughs), but I think that the biggest takeaway I’m realizing now is that the journey is filled with peaks and valleys and yet, if you stay true to who you are, you have a chance to be around for four decades and counting – and not to be on a nostalgia tour. We’re currently getting ready to release a new record and all kinds of other things that are coming to celebrate this 40th. … It’s about understanding that no career is a straight line from A to 40 (laughs) but rather it’s the peaks and valleys and that’s what makes you stronger.

Could a tour be in the works following the album?
There’s no details but that’s certainly the hope. We’re very excited about the new record. There’s going to be a documentary coming. There’s a whole lot of things in the pipeline. I think yesterday was technically the birthdate of the band – the 40th birthdate of the band. I only knew that because I saw it online (laughs).

An announcement from your team said that self-reliance optimism and community are key concepts that define Bon Jovi’s music and charitable efforts. Do you consider yourself an optimist? And what’s the key to sustaining that attitude?
I’ve always absolutely been a glass-half-full kind of a guy. I think it was the blue-collar, middle-class upbringing, being born at the time that I was and we were as a band. That kind of optimism was prevalent in America in 1962 when JFK was in the White House and talking about going to the moon and your mom and dad saying, “Anything you want to be, you can be.” There was a sense of awe about what was to come. And I carried that with me as long as I could. These days it gets harder and harder but then you meet some young kid who blows you away and you think, “Oh, that’s the future.” Or you see some new innovation that’s there for the good of mankind and you say “OK, we can save ourselves from ourselves at this point.” (laughs). I still remain optimistic that it’s not yet too late to right ourselves.

What advice would you give to someone who either wanted to get into music or wanted to get involved with giving back to others?

I think that’s a really simple question. And the honest answer is to be true to who you are. And in the music business, it’s by being true to who you are and not jumping on fads and fashion because you think that’s going to bring more success.

And with regard to philanthropy, everybody has the opportunity to give back in their own way. And if you were ever to get involved on a grander scale, i.e. a foundation, just make sure that it’s something you really know about, care about and are willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

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